Our sacrifices v/s your sacrifices
Deliberately ignoring the history and believing in own paradise of fancy thoughts is a passion for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He thinks that the new office of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the foundation for which was laid by him on the day of Raksha Bandhan, is “a symbol of the sacrifices of the party leaders” and “BJP has faced more adversities in independent India as compared to what Congress would have during the British rule”.
Nothing could be more humiliating and denigrating for the freedom struggle if the Prime Minister of India feels that Independent India was more atrocious to the existence and growth of a particular political party than even with what the likes of Brigadier Reginald Dyer did with the innocent citizens of our country for whose rights the Congress party fought for decades. In playing his politics to the hilt, Modi likes to forget conveniently the genocide of Indians and Congress struggle against it. He likes to push the sacrifices of our freedom fighters on the sidelines to project the “sacrifices” of his party workers in Independent India. Modi does not want to remember the days when the Congress was struggling against the slaughter of Indian population by the British. And so brutal were the massacres that the memories would shock us numb even today.
I am shocked to see the Prime Minister of largest democracy in the world comparing the sacrifices of the people who laid their lives fighting against the colonial rule based on the divisive policies and horrible loot of economic resources and the day-to-day difficulties faced by hardcore right wingers in raising a political outfit through the tactics of rumours, rhetoric and riots to polarise a well-knit society. It is nothing but lowering the dignity of the office of Prime Minister which Modi occupies.
The Congress, as the main opposition to Modi’s party, can be a subject of ridicule by him. But ridiculing those who fought the struggle for freedom of India from British rule under the umbrella of the Congress party is something that cannot be accepted. I don’t think our Prime Minister is so unaware of the history which is full of the instances with sacrificing Congress workers on the streets left thick with blood slush when others were competing for Victoria Cross and Knighthood by butchering women and children. Bhartiya Jan Sangh or its later face BJP had no existence then, but even Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), which was formed in September 1925, had a dubious record of its activities in 22 years before India got Independence.
The RSS was the ideological descendant of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore, never participated in India’s Freedom struggle. Moreover, on critical occasions, RSS always supported the British Government. In 1939, when the Government of India under the British decided that India will take part in the Second World War, all the Congress chief ministers and ministers resigned from the provincial governments as this decision was not acceptable to the party. But Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was the chief of Hindu Maha Sabha then, wrote to Viceroy Linlithgow that his party will continue in the provincial governments with the support of other parties including Muslim League. Savarkar’s party formed the governments with Muslim League from Sindh to Frontier province. Fazlul Haq became the Chief Minister in Bengal after Congress quit the government and Dr. Syama Prasad Mukharjee, who later founded Jan Sangh, joined his Cabinet. Today’s BJP’s forefathers were in the governments together with the Muslim League which had passed the Resolution to oppose the Quit India Movement.
Shyama Prasad Mukharjee also wrote a letter to Bengal Governor John Hobart saying, “The question is how to combat Quit India Movement. The administration of the province must be carried in such a manner that this Movement will fail to take root in the province. Indians have to trust the British not for the sake of Britain but for the Defence and Freedom of provinces. As your Minister, I am willing to offer you my whole-hearted services”. Mukharjee further mentioned in this letter that RSS and Hindu Maha Sabha have made a decision that its members will not participate in Quit India Movement. The British Home Political Department file dated August 28, 1942, contains the related documents to this fact on page number 92. Bombay Province documents reveal that RSS has scrupulously kept within the law and refrained from taking any part in the disturbances of 1942.
Mahatma Gandhi remained in British prisons for more than 11 years. Nehru was in jail for more than 13 years and wrote “Discovery of India” on the packing papers in which the ration was supplied. On the contrary, when Savarkar was jailed he began sending mercy petitions to the relevant British authorities. In his first petition to Reginald Craddock, he wrote, “If the Government, in its manifold benefits and mercy releases me, I, for one cannot but be the strongest advocate for constitutional progress and loyalty to the British Government. I am ready to serve the Government in any capacity.” Savarkar sent 6 such mercy petitions to British Government.
Modi needs to be reminded that he, his colleagues and his party are the direct beneficiaries of India’s freedom, India’s Constitution and India’s democracy, attained with the sacrifices of thousands of people, which allowed and empowered BJP to form governments in many States and Centre. BJP was in power in Centre directly for 6 years, was a participant in power in the Centre for three and a half year and with the period of Modi’s current rule it is completing 12 years in power at the national level. Gandhi and Nehru spent a similar number of years in prisons to make the dream of freedom a reality.
An expenditure of words without well-earned thoughts leads to intellectual bankruptcy. Thoughts generate with the sense of history and history is always created by the herculean efforts made for the betterment of mankind. The tendency to denigrate and ridicule everything just to score short-lived petty political popularity does not make a Prime Minister a statesman. Narendra Modi must remember this.
(The author is Editor and CEO of News Views India. Views expressed are strictly personal.)